I have recollections of my grandfather telling my mother who would sometimes spend all day in bed, “Why are you still in bed? Get out and do something. You’re so lazy.” My mother in return would cry uncontrollably, ”I’m sick, can’t you see that?”
“Clinical depression is currently the leading cause of disability in the US as well as other countries, and is expected to become the second leading cause of disability worldwide (after heart disease) by the year 2020, according to the World Health Organization.” -- answers.com
I recently realized my mother has always suffered from depression, large bouts of depression. Back in the 70’s and 80’s I didn’t know what depression was. I just thought my mother was in a bad mood because of something I did. In the 90’s, I denied it. Why would my mother who has 2 kids, a big home and the freedom to do whatever she pleased be depressed. There are people out there in horrible predicaments that aren’t depressed. Then she had her accident and its as if Pandora’s box was opened.
I’ve only recently admitted that the depression she was diagnosed with after the accident has always existed. Why? I guess one reason is because I now know that I didn’t inflict the depression. A lot of my relationship with my mother was based on people telling me how much I hurt my mother. My actions or words always seemed to sting my mother. “Can’t you see how you’re killing her?”
Now the only guilt I have is not that I may have inflicted her depression but that my husband now has to endure her mood swings and the likelihood that we will have to care for her in her old age. I haven’t told this to my husband but that is one of the reasons why I doubt we’ll ever start a family. I’m not hurt or bitter about this but it’s a discussion for another day.
The dilemma I find myself at is always the same. Why do we always have to walk on eggshells for her? Even if it means we need to clean up the cracked shells she sometimes leaves in her wake?
Why is it ok for everyone, my father, my stepfather, my brother and I to be choked by depression’s noose?
There are a lot of things my mother does because she thinks she’s doing the right thing. There are a lot of things my mother does because it’s the easy way of doing things. There are a lot of things my mother does because she just doesn’t realize how it effects others.
She means well a lot of times but it doesn’t make it easier when things go sour and the stagehands need to come in and clean the set.
How do explain to your mother that her illness grips us just as hard as it grips her? How do you explain that without spiraling her down another well of darkness?
It’s a vicious circle. She sees her children’s despair and doesn’t know how to react. Instead of asking us what is going on and how we feel, she assumes and makes decisions she feels will make us feel better, mostly monetary objects she can’t afford.
We find out after the fact and the next thing you know we’re paying for things we didn’t want but we can’t say anything or mom will get offended.
Sadly, even if my mother could change and ask us what’s going on, we are caught in a web where we can’t. I’ve tried and that only made our relationship worse.
So what is the answer? I don’t have one. I think millions of people are in the same predicament as my brother and I find ourselves.
How do we continue to grow personally while continuing our responsibilities given to us by blood? How do you avoid the bitterness and the anger? How do you avoid stunting? How do you avoid spreading the burden to others?
I’m not trying to justify it or rationalize it. I’m not trying to find the answers to why or why me. I find those questions foolish and selfish. Whatever I may feel is minute to what my mother must feel.
I just wish I was stronger and more financially capable so that this illness wouldn’t affect anymore than it already has.
Related tags: chronic depression